Friday, September 28, 2007

After Work, Before Bed

I've been reading Julia Serano's The Whipping Girl and I am totally blown away. For a year now I have wanted to write about what i call "trans-feminism", and I think that Serano has more or less written the majority for me. What's missing, what I want to add, is a section for transmen. I want to talk about feminism and the process of transitioning towards privilege. Too many transmen, either friends or celebrities like Max Wolf Valerio,* seem to transition from "feminist lesbians" to misogynistic men. Testosterone can change many things but I find it hard to believe that it makes you misogynistic. Huge sections of transmale writing seems to justify cat-calls, sexual aggression, and the objectification of women as if these former feminists dykes are simply not to blame for their current sexism.

However I know that testosterone changes things, estrogen and progesterone change moods, outlooks, and desires. If testosterone does put our feminism to the test, then we need something to pull us back. We need a primer, a Feminism is for Everybody for the tranny crowd that reminds us men how to resist the urge to use our new-found privilege. I think this could also translate over to gay and bisexual men, too. A book/essay that would remind us that one oppression doesn't justify any other oppressive behavior. Speaking of which, what is naturally missing in The Whipping Girl, what is missing in so many trans writings, is any analysis of race. Serano talks intensely about class privilege, and the majority of us can understand the relationship between race and class but racial and ethnic differences in relationship to transgender identity and the process of transitioning are rarely discussed. I've labeled this post as being connected with "queer racism" and it frightens me that a word that is supposed to represent a non-hierarchical understanding of institutionalized and historically justified oppressions can fit so easily with "racism" one of the key ideas "queerness" was supposed to challenge. I'm not sure what I could write that would challenge the racism in queer circles, or what advice I could give trans and genderqueer men, but I want to try, even a bad first attempt would be better than nothing at all.

*Apparently Seal Press doesn't place their non-gender-conforming writers on its website. Max Wolf Valerio isn't there and neither is Mattilda. Seal Press has some questions to answer...


Morgan said...

I hope you do write that book! It would be such a crucial contribution.

I was on youtube tonight trying to find something good to send you and I found this video about "a transguy, his femme and their kids" Ew.

I guess ownership is cool if that's what blows your dress up but I think I'll pass on that, whether I decide to wear a dress or not.

Have I told you today that I'm proud to be your partner? If I have not that was an egregious error on my part because I am, very much.

Mik Danger said...

my love, you will never be my femme. In a dress, or pants, or nude we are equal and together.

I am glad you are proud to be my partner, because I am proud and honored to be yours. I love you.

cat said...

Hi. I've just started reading your blog and now I'm writing my first comment to a stranger.

I'm totally with you on the need to separate maleness/masculinity (no matter if trans or not) from default misogyny/femmephobia. (And yes, please do write on queer racism, as creepy as those two words sound together!)

I seem to misunderstand your comment "you will never be my femme" here, however. Could you therefore please clarify the difference between saying "my femme" and "my partner" (besides the fact that "femme" obviously denotes a gender which "partner" doesn't)?

In my world, saying "my femme" (or "my butch" for that matter) simply is short for "my partner whose gender is femme (or butch)". I find it useful to avoid the male/female binary (which I see in using either boyfriend or girlfriend - both of which would be wrong for "my" transgendered butch anyway) and to let people know where my desire goes genderwise.

But I'm not an English native speaker, so maybe I'm just missing something here...